Summary for ‘Lyneham Long Barrow & Portal Stone’:
Location: Lyneham, Oxfordshire
Condition: Badly eroded long barrow, with one single portal stone remaining.
Access: No public access to site.
OS Grid Ref.: SP297211
Further information: Historic England
Walks posts for site:
• The Anomalous Megalith.
The busy A361 road was roughly the route of The Jurassic Way. Passing the long barrow, it follows the ridge into the Evenlode valley down to the river crossing, rising on the other side of the valley past more ancient burial mounds.
Long barrows are some of the earliest large built structures that remain from Europe’s ‘New’ Stone Age. They are roughly 9,000 to 3,700 years old, and mark the point where society transitioned from a nomadic to a settled existence.
Lyneham is likely to be one of the earliest surviving structures to be built in this area, about 5,000 to perhaps 6,000 years ago (though this site has had little ‘modern’ archaeology performed since the excavations here over a century ago). To put that into context, that’s older than the Egyptian Pyramids!
The long barrows at ‘Wayland's Smithy’ or ‘West Kennet’, and more locally The Whispering Knights and The Hoar Stone, are not really representative. They were ‘restored’ to some extent by eager archaeologists in the late Nineteenth to the mid-Twentieth Century, into an approximation of their state when first constructed.
This site is far more representative of how most un-restored sites survive to the present day. The portal stone is said to have been ‘broken’ in 1923, and reset in the ground the following year. Much of the stone from behind the portal was robbed over the intervening centuries.
Lyneham Long Barrow is a rare survivor of time and the plough, standing then next to what would today be considered a major national highway. It marks a time when the British Isles formed part of a complex pan-European culture, and people freely travelled and traded throughout that area. It shows that however ‘ancient’ we might believe these sites to be, when you look at the lives of the people who built it they were not so different to us.